I Dodged a Bulllet

I am currently doing a four-week course to train me to be an English teacher. The Saudis are cracking down on qualifications and so here I sit in Denver doing the CELTA.

You have to do ten practice classes, four papers and this and that. I have been doing well. This (third) week we moved down to the beginner group of students. I taught my first class with them on Tuesday and hit them with some easy grammar today.

My tutor beet around the bush. She hemmed and hawed. Suddenly it occurred even to me that I had failed. If you fail one class you are out. But we chatted and she went back to her office and changed the grade to “Met Standards (weak).”

Great. I dodged the bullet. But I have two more classes I must pass, and I frankly do not know I can teach much better than I did today. (I am not going into details of my failure as I barely understand them myself. “Not connecting with the class.”)

All I want out of life is the ability to sit in Saudi Arabia, go quietly mad and leave a nice estate to my nephews. I have failed in love and carry those scars very, very deeply. Fine, that is the hand I was dealt. No problem.

Am I to fail even at this tiny little goal?


In this big world, my little problems don’t mean a thing. Look at the other posts. Dead dogs, cancer, dogs killed by cancer. I am a lucky man. Right now I do not feel it.

Damn, and I must wait till Tuesday for my next class.


I PM’d you…

Hey, I’d send you some SDMB Standard {{}}'s, except that you don’t seem like a hugs kind of guy…

So I will say instead that if your course leader can’t explain clearly in a way that you can understand, exactly what the problem was, and how you can do it better next time, it doesn’t sound like she is much of a teacher.

Here’s to a slightly wider margin of bullet-dodging next week

It may not mean much to you, but I’m rooting for you… Always have been, actually. :slight_smile:

THank you all for your kindnesses. I am going to bed. I have a cold too.

That always makes one feel worse.

I agree with Aspidastra - the instructor needs to tell you where you are coming up short. My money’s on you, I think you will make it. :slight_smile:

Friggin’ certification tests!

My advice (free! and not even worth that!): Get some rest, treat your cold, and then talk privately with your teacher(s) about how you can improve.

And if they don’t give you helpful advice then give them a big wet sloppy kiss - while you still have rhinovirii to share!! :smiley:

I think I might have a clue as to your problem … :slight_smile:

No really, as others said you are entitled to a detailed explanation as to what your actual failing was. If you don’t respect your assessor and don’t agree with the outcome … sadly your choices are to suck it up and do what she wants, no matter what, or fail it with your honour intact and find a better option.

Rooting here & I also have a cold. Also agree that your assessor needs to be able to tell you what the problem is & what you might try to remedy is.

Is Saudi that major a locale priority for you or how about any place you can teach English to Arabic students?

You can do it, Paul. There’s got to be a way to get through this successfully.

What do you think about videotaping yourself? You may want to take some time to practice someplace where you feel comfortable, and get some video. Maybe when you watch the replay something will jump out at you that can be improved on.

I agree that it would be very helpful to get specifics from your instructor, if you haven’t already. No one is perfect the first time, and these things take practice.

Good luck. When in doubt, fart.

Just kidding. I wanted to make sure you were still reading my post. I hope your cold goes away soon.

I am not a teacher, so I cannot offer any advice, but I will offer a wish of luck for this upcoming next class.

You’ll do it, Paul! But do have a good long talk with her about the areas she feels you need to improve. Be sure to cast it in a positive light.

OK, so I am batting cleanup on Monday, the last 40-minute class of the day. That ought to tell the tale. Time to start lesson planning.

Maybe you should video a practice class, and let some people critique it? You could put it on YouTube.

When all else fails, add confidence and energy.

This time Monday it will be decided. Either I pass the Monday class (and worry until Thursday) or I fail. Keep your fingers crossed.


“Not connecting” is teacher-admin code not for not knowing the material, but rather, not being good at conveying it or even worse, keeping people’s interest while motivating them to learn.

Whatever holds your personality back, you are going to have to let it all go, at least for 72 hours.

Nothing wrong with putting on a show - you don’t have to be the same person you are before or after that 40 minutes in order to connect. You didn’t say what level the students are at (or if they are culturally similar to the ones in Saudi, a big issue in teaching English), but you are going to have to find the sweet spot between entertaining people with limited vocabulary and teaching a curriculum.

Good luck!

Actually, they are low beginners. I rarely work at that level. Stranger, they are mostly Libyans. (Libyans in Denver?) One idea I am kicking around is that face with a bunch of Arabs, I snapped back into Saudi military instructor mode. It did not feel that way to me, but people reported I became some sort of Grammar Robot.

A few months back there was a poster on this board who had lived in Saudi Arabia for several years and he was bemoaning how the bureaucracy was screwing him over and he would never get out of that hot and annoying country. I wish you could talk to him or look over his posts on how bad it was when he needed to leave. If only I could remember his user name I’d give it to you Paul In Saudi.

Are these lessons recorded? It might be instructive to watch yourself.